My youngest sister, Elise, is a 1st grade teacher in the small, mountain town of Huehuetenango, Guatemala. She shares a house with nine American teachers. A hot shower is rare…actually having no water at all is common. She speaks limited Spanish. A rooster wakes her every morning. She sleeps on a metal bunk bed…her first bed was destroyed by bed bugs. Lice is a part of daily life. She dips her pizza in ketchup instead of ranch…having a hard time dealing with that one. “Chicken buses,” old school buses with wooden benches, are the primary mode of transportation.
Selfless love. She wanted to make a difference and now she’s put her whole life on hold to teach the adorable children of Huehuetenango.
More Than Compassion
Elise teaches through the nonprofit, More Than Compassion (MTC) that funds the basic needs and education of Guatemalan orphans. MTC runs the school that educates the children of the Fundacion Salvacion, an orphanage in Huehuetenango. MTC’s vision is all about redemption and relationships seeking not only to meet the current needs of the orphans in Guatemala, but to create new ways to empower and enable them to have a bright future.
I never imagined that my sister would move to a foreign country after college. But as I have learned more and more about MTC, I am starting to understand why. Our generation is becoming known for its focus on philanthropy. This is where society’s heart is heading – the drive to do something bigger than yourself. Obviously not everyone is able to drop everything and become a teacher in Guatemala, but there are small things we can do every day with the help of brands.
Giving through everyday brands
Brands are now finding ways to help consumers do good by simply purchasing their products. It’s a win-win for the consumer and the brand — the consumer feels fulfilled, and the brand is associated with doing something positive for the community.
According to Media Post , “The future of marketing is philanthropy and causes” and I couldn’t agree more. Consumers want to know what a brand stands for when it comes to social responsibility.
Another great brand using its product to help people in need is Warby Parker. For every pair of Warby Parker glasses purchased, a pair is distributed to someone in need of glasses in a developing country. The donations also enable partner nonprofits to train men and women in those countries to provide basic eye care.
As a consumer, I always feel less guilty shopping when I know my purchases are doing some good in the world. More companies should and will follow TOMS and Warby’s “cause-marketing” lead.
I won’t lie, it has not been easy without Elise in my life this year. But then I see pictures of her being hugged and tackled by a bunch of giggling little 1st graders and I can’t help but smile! When I FaceTime her, I see true happiness in her eyes. I see Nancy grabbing the phone with the biggest grin yelling, “Renee, Reneeeee I love you ONE HUNDRED!” (Nancy has this undying love for me although we have never met. I have the same for her.) And in those moments I understand why Elise has made the sacrifices she has made. She is making a difference and I couldn’t be more proud to call her my sister.
Elise has decided to continue her journey in Guatemala for another year and in her support, I am hosting a fundraising happy hour this Thursday, 12/4 at the Field House. Please come!
More of Elise’s story can be found here.